Welcome to my asylum for ideas and thoughts on movies, politics, culture, and all things Bruce Springsteen.

Monday, July 26, 2004

The Democrats are coming, the Democrats are coming!

Today kicks off the Democratic National Convention, the big party in Beantown that will see the Democratic Party nominate John Kerry as its candidate in the 2004 election.  Security, as NPR has been reporting this morning about every 3.7 seconds, is extremely tight and strict.  The party, in my opinion, that reflects the needs and feelings of most Americans moreso than the GOP, ironically has limited the "free speech" area to a small, gated, razor-wire-lined pit away from the entrance of the Fleet Center.  I understand the possible threat of terrorism and the looming ghost of Chicago '68, but I thought that only Karl Rove would create such a Treblinka-esque corral to round people up in so they can speak freely.  At any rate, let's hope that nothing bad occurs (like Al Sharpton getting the nod) and that swing voters begin awakening to the reality that the Pretender to the Throne (remember Florida!) has no clothes on.  As George IV parades across the nation with that smart alecky pursed smirk on his face that I would pay to smack off, he can only trump his "wartime presidency" card as a way to wave the bloody shirt and scare people into voting for him.  I pray for the day next May when I can create the history lesson comparing Georges 41 and 43, both with disastrous domestic policies, ties to Middle Eastern oil, train wrecks of Iraq wars fought, and THE FACT THAT BOTH WERE REJECTED IN THEIR BIDS FOR RE-ELECTION.

With that, I read an interview and story on John Kerry in last week's issue of the New Yorker.  Eric Alterman has always praised Kerry for being a passionate, articulate individual with goals that I believe will help our country.  While Kerry sounds a bit like the Swedish Chef when he speaks publicly, I walked away from this article with even more respect for this man.  Kerry is no saint, nor is he a superhero.  However, the fact that he served his country in Vietnam and then returned to lead the VVAW in order for his country to do what he believed was right, makes Kerry a true patriot.  He may appear the wishy-washy politician and the stereotypical Boston Brahmin, but that just hammers home the belief that there are no great men, only men that do great things.  I don't expect Kerry to ascend a white horse and lead our nation in Washington-eque form, but I do believe that he will halt everything that Bush has done to tarnish, stain, and otherwise wreck in the three and a half short years since he was selected president. 

It appears that more and more musicians and other artists are coming out of the woodwork to express their discontent towards President Bush.  This late-breaking story only makes me wish just for one day that I lived in a swing state!  I can't remember if there has ever been such a rallied effort by popular artists to campaign either for or against an elected official like this.  I understand, as pundit P.J. O'Rourke wryly denotes, that these people are pop musicians; their sometimes messianic beliefs that they can change the world are noteworthy in their hilarity.  However, one thing that we as a nation must understand that pop musicians most often connect with the greatest amount of people; they most often speak to and for average people; they most often represent the feelings, fears, and desires of the masses.  Pop musicians are akin to the traveling troubadours of old, touring villages and towns making their art, learning about and touching people and then moving on.  These musicians were responsible for making local tales and songs into cultural institutions that united people across nation-states though the people who remembered and passed on those stories would never meet even a fraction of the numbers of others who would pass them on as well.  This tour could truly impact the election if it encouraged younger voters to show up and cast their ballots.  This tour won't damage the reputations of the musicians involved as many people fear; no one who watches Bill O'Reilly or Dennis Miller has stopped supporting them for the screed they preach in their popular form of entertainment.  The Dixie Chicks, Ani DiFranco, REM, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, Neil Young, and any other crazy Zimmerman who may join in aren't communists, traitors, "liberals", evild-doers, aiders and abettors of the terrorists, or any other label that the right will throw at them.  They're concerned citizens who have and should continue to have the freedom to voice their beliefs.
What I love about this article is this line:

No album or song is likely to capture as much media attention as the concerts involving Springsteen in swing states, which are expected to take place in arenas.

What we continue to see is the evolution not of the "rich man in a poor man's shirt" rock star but the political philosophy of a man who speaks for those who normally aren't listened to; one who has the natural gift of seeing and identifying the segments of society that often face the biggest burdens, need the greatest attention, and make up more of US than we care to realize.  Bruce, I believe, is speaking his heart not with the intention of turning people into Democrats, but active citizens.  His support for organizations like MoveOn.org and his public denunciation of the war in Iraq shows his true feelings for democracy, the idea that the voice of the people should be the most powerful and feared political power in the country.  Power, voice, and representation of the average person is Bruce's main message in both his actions and his art.  What encourages me in respecting and supporting Bruce is his ability (myth-making aside) to remind me that I am another average person and that my voice and opinions and feelings matter and should be heard.  Bruce Springsteen is not a propagandist like Paul Revere; he is not a political philosopher like Adams or Hamilton; yet, he stands as another true American patriot - one of countless millions who live and believe that the ideas of freedom, hard work, individualism, and democracy are what makes this country great.  These beliefs are what make decent human beings great regardless of creed, religion, or nationality- they call to the "better angels of our nature" for all people, and I only hope that maybe it takes a silly little rock and roll tour to awaken the same beliefs in people who either never understood these ideas or who once did but have since forgotten them.  Bruce's actions also should spark a fire under anyone who has always griped and complained but failed to take action into making an effort to help make the world a better place.  Remember,  there are no great people, only people who do great things.  I sure wish I could go to one of the shows.

Whew, that concludes my sermon for the day.  Remember to place an offering in the plate and be kind to your neighbor!

On a personal note: RIP, Grandma Ann, your family will miss you.